As Congress addresses concerns the U.S. Postal Service changes could undermine November’s election, Washington’s delegation must be outspoken in its defense of the service and mail voting.
Under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who was appointed to the job by President Donald Trump in May, the service was found to be removing mailboxes, dismantling some mail-handling equipment and reducing service levels.
DeJoy backed down Tuesday. But lawmakers must still scrutinize its actions and prevent partisan shenanigans when mail voting will be essential to many voters during the pandemic.
Washington has been voting by mail statewide since 2011 and proven the approach is trustworthy. Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican, has become a national champion of mail voting and a media darling for countering falsehoods that Trump is spreading to create fear and uncertainty about mailed ballots.
Before DeJoy changed course, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called members back for a Saturday session to vote on the Delivering for America Act. It would prohibit the Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or levels of service that were in place as of Jan. 1.
This editorial board asked all 10 of Washington’s representatives if they support the Delivering for America Act and if not, what else they are proposing to prevent degradation of postal service ahead of the election. Democrats were effusive in their support of mail voting; several Republicans offered more nuanced answers.
Here are their responses, edited for space.
U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue: Yes, the Delivering for America Act is necessary to ensure the Postal Service is not hampered by dangerous policy changes and has the resources it needs to do its job for American people and businesses that rely on it every day.
U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia: “I do support the Delivering for America Act. In fact, I am co-sponsoring the bill.”
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane: “No, because the Postmaster General already announced that changes won’t be happening before the election.”
Do you believe voting by mail is trustworthy? “I do trust Washington’s system, but it’s important to keep in mind that Washington’s system, and many other states who currently use mail-in voting, has been developed over many years to ensure election integrity. States are already dealing with so much, and I have concerns that they would be able to make that transition this quickly and do it right.”
U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Vancouver: Yes, as currently written. Do you support mail voting? “It works well in Washington, where we have an established, tested system capably and fairly administered by Secretary of State Kim Wyman. Other states do not have the benefit of our experience and are scrambling to build their own vote-by-mail systems as a result of the pandemic. I’m not familiar enough with the systems in those states to comment on them.”
U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Medina: “I am a co-sponsor of this necessary legislation. The recent changes made by the Trump administration come as Americans are relying on the USPS more than ever to cast their ballots, receive prescriptions, and order basic necessities due to COVID-19. We need to stop this deliberate attempt to undermine the Postal Service.”
U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Yakima: “Nearly every American business and government agencies at all levels have had to make changes to operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I do not believe prohibiting the U.S. Postal Service from making reforms to operate more efficiently for the public during these unprecedented times will benefit the people of Central Washington.” What are you proposing instead? “I am a co-sponsor of several House bills and resolutions to support taking all appropriate measures to ensure the U.S. Postal Service remains solvent, public and operating to best serve the American public.”
Do you believe voting by mail is trustworthy? “Washington’s Secretary of State Kim Wyman, state election officials and county auditors have worked for decades to ensure Washington state’s vote-by-mail election system is safe and secure, but other states implementing vote-by-mail in response to the COVID-19 pandemic do not have that luxury or assurance. If implemented correctly and efficiently with fraud prevention and other safeguards in place, Americans can trust a vote-by-mail election system.”
U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Issaquah: “Yes, Rep. Schrier is a co-sponsor of the Delivering for America Act.”
U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle: “Congresswoman Jayapal supports the Delivering for America Act and is a proud co-sponsor of this legislation in the House.”
U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor: “Yes — I’m a co-sponsor of the Delivering for America Act. At any time, but especially just a few months away from the 2020 General Election, the sweeping operational and organizational changes being implemented by the Postmaster General are unacceptable.”
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett: “Yes. I am a co-sponsor of the Delivering for America Act and plan to vote for the bill on Saturday. I am fighting to protect the USPS, ensure the validity of the 2020 elections and safeguard democracy.”